Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts

February 3, 2019

Tag Lines Deliver

Ouch!  How is that for a tag line?
Unlike Your Boyfriend, We Deliver.

That certainly has a sharp bite to it, but you know what?  It works. 

Witty, funny, and maybe even true. 

It's the old adage that "sex sells."

That's a delivery service that I'm sure many would nod their heads to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 16, 2018

Advertising Platforms As A REAL Business Model?

So I read in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that 3 major technology companies get over 80% of their revenue from advertising:

These companies and their percentage of advertising revenue are:

Facebook - 98.3%
Twitter -- 86.4%
Alphabet (Google) -- 86%

It's a wonderful thing how advertising pays for the wonderful free Internet services. 

Looking back to when I was a kid, I guess that how we got all those marvelous TV shows without having to pay for a cable subscription. 

But what I always wonder in the back of my mind is whether collecting advertising dollars is a REAL business. 

Yeah, sure these companies are mammoth and have made themselves and their shareholders gazillions of dollars.  

But somewhere I keep telling myself this doesn't quite add up. 

If you make something of value then someone is willing to pay for it. 

If it doesn't have value then you have to give it away for free. 

If facebook or twitter actually charged money for their service, I can't imagine anyone would actually pay squat for it.  

Google is another story, but if they started to charge, you'd just go to a service like Explorer or Safari that doesn't.

So if the only way to provide the service is to shove advertising down your customer's throats, again I have to ask is that really a business. 

If I can't see how a company can sell something based on the VALUE they are providing, honestly it's not something that I can really get myself behind. 

Out of the three companies--Google is perhaps the only one that I can see as a real something. 

As for Facebook and Twitter, despite the Presidential tweets and Russian interference in our elections, I don't see the underlying greatness. 

Maybe I am way wrong, but if you don't want to pay for it then what the heck is it really worth! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 26, 2018

Pet Rock 2018

So when I saw this colored rock last evening, it made me think two things:

One, cool idea, looks nice and fun to make.

Two, it reminded me of the Pet Rocks in the 1970s that made millions (this one was hippie even though those back then weren't actually even colored).

A business guy came up with the idea to sell smooth rocks from Mexico beach and market them as pets.

Yeah, they are so lovable and easy to care for!

It was one of the great branding and marketing events of the 20th century.

Who would think people would actually spend money on a plain dumb rock that you could basically pick up off the street?

But incredibly, putting the rock in a box with holes (so the rock could breath) and sitting it on a little stack of hay with an joke of instruction book for caring for your rock, SOLD. 

And in fact, over 1,500,000 rocks were sold at a pop of $4 each.

The guy became a millionaire and got rid of a truckload of worthless rocks.

Yes, "One man's garbage is another man's treasure!"

But surely this was getting a little ridiculous.

Hey, I'll give you a nickle for the shinny painted rock in the photo here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 6, 2017

Learning To Save For A Rainy Day

This was so funny coming across this big bright red piggy bank in a thrift store. 

What a blast from the past!

I remember having one of these as a child. 

My parents taught me to put my allowance in to save for the future. 

When it accumulated $10, the metal door on the bottom would open and we could put the money in the bank.

It was like a game to try to get to the magic amount and get the register to pop open.

In those days, the bank had little books for your checking and savings accounts, and when you deposited the money, you'd get a line printed with the deposit and new balance printed in the dot matrix print of yesteryear. 

Again, these were all good lessons about savings and seeing the benefits in the toy register or in your bank book.

Maybe these were things that initially inspired me to get my bachelors degree in accounting.  

The discipline of numbers was great, but it was never as exciting as the promise and hope of ever new technology, but that's what added up at the time to me. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

May 15, 2016

2 Jobs Are Better Than 1

So this is a funny story that my friend reminded me (honestly, I had almost completely forgotten about it)...

We were in college (business school) looking for our first real corporate jobs for the Summer. 

With G-d's blessing, I ended up with 2 nice offers.

But my good friend didn't have a job.

So I offered one to him.

I was still a kid...what did I know!

I told one company that I accepted and the other company that I had a friend that was interested (of course, I would vouch for him). 

So on day 1 of the Summer job, my friend shows up there in the World Trade Center on the 99th floor (yeah, this is before 9/11 took the whole place down).

The corporate folks talked about it for 5 minutes and said he could stay.

Voila now we both had summer jobs!

Honestly, I can't believe we ever had the chutzpah, but in those days people helped each other out more. 

2 4 1 and 1 4 All. 

And that's how we both got started in the NY business world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 11, 2015

Honesty, A Great Policy

So I went to the Podiatrist today for some routine maintenance. 

This was a new doctor for me, and I was going in with a healthy dose of skepticism (until I know the person is good and trustworthy). 

Well after the doctor does all these things, I test the waters and ask him, "So how often should I come back to see you every 6 months or more often or what?"

Here's his opportunity to put money ahead of really caring about the patient and to say to come often and more frequently so they can make more patient visits and more money.

But instead he pleasantly surprised me and goes, "Well let's see how your doing and take it from there."

I loved it--some genuine honesty and not just business and a money-making racket. 

Now, I really do plan to go back to this doctor regularly, because I trust him. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 30, 2015

That's Getting A LIttle Personal

This was a funny advertisement hanging in Hot Topic in the mall. 

It says: "Get in our pants"--well, excuse you!

Using sexual come-ons to sell, sell, sell...is not a new marketing strategy. 

As they say in the biz world, "Sex sells!"

Perhaps a more targeted ad about quality, fit, and pricing would be more to the product point.

But why sell with facts, when you can sell with fantasy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 22, 2013

Down In The Dumps

This is a display at a retailer in posh Rockville, Maryland.

As crazy as these mugs are including their $4 price tag, what adds to this comical scene is that there is the broom leaning up against the stack on the right, which I suppose you would rightfully need if these mugs were accurate. 

I am sitting here thinking (briefly--very) about what exactly the social commentary is for these nasty mugs, and I believe that this is about people wanting to let down their (no, not their pants!) facade of perfection and propriety and having to do everything right at work and at home, and just instead for a while being silly, crude, and even (a little) stupid.  

It's like the person who says the most inappropriate thing at the most inappropriate time and says, "Did I say that?" And everyone starts laughing as the tension of the moment is swept away. 

I think to some extent we all need that...to break the tension of the everyday rat race we live, and to give everyone pause to just say or do something a little silly and for everyone just to laugh it off. And then the real business can go on with everyone knowing that there are real human beings behind those suits and stone faces. 

Anyway, this was probably the strangest display in a retail store I have seen, outside of the Village in New York City, but that's another story. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 3, 2013

If I Could Do School All Over Again


This program at Draper University of Heroes was written up in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (25 Feb. 2013) as The Silicon Valley Survival School. 

But really this is the remaking of education by venture capitalist, Tim Draper. 

There is an awesome focus on building thinkers, dreamers, inventors, and entrepreneurs--not just some more liberal arts majors without an real idea of how to apply what they learned or "what they want to be when they grow up."

The skills taught get you out of your comfort zone, break your fears, teach you life survival skills, and give you a core business foundation to hopefully, create the next great thing. 

Draper uses the terms superheroes, creativity, and imagination--skills so often overlooked in the traditional classroom where dated topics are not applied to real life, stale modes of teaching keep people in their seats and snoozing, and memorization is valued more than real critical analysis and innovative thinking. 


I am excited here by a curriculum that focuses on the big picture areas of vision, truth & justice, and creativity, and has lectures with CEOs of successful companies along side practical training in martial arts, survival, SWAT, first aid, lie detection, yoga, art and design, speed reading, cooking and more. 

This 8-week crash course teaches you how to come up with great ideas, start and finance a business, network, brand and sell, and classes are limited to 180 students, and the cost is $7,500 or 2% of your income for the next 10 years. 

The capstone is a 2-minute pitch to a panel of real investors, and the chance for Draper Fisher Jurvetson to make an actual investment in it. 

Investing in good ideas is one thing...investing in great people with the skills to succeed is even better.

I'd like to see this program expand to true University and even high-school level proportions--so we can really teach kids rather than just imprison them in mind and body. ;-)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 7, 2012

The Meaning of CIO Squared

113
An article in CIO Magazine (1 March 2012) describes the term "CIO Squared" as "the combination of chief information officer and chief innovation officer," and goes on to provide examples of CIOs that are both of these. 

While I respect this definition of the term and think innovation is certainly critical to the success of any CIO, and for that matter any organization in our times, I have been writing a column called CIO Squared for a couple of year now in Public CIO magazine and have other thoughts about what this really means. 

Moreover, I think the article in CIO missed the point of what "squared" really implies. 

Like the notion that 1+1=3, CIO Squared is a concept that the CIO is not just multi-faceted and -talented (that would be 1+1=2), but rather that the CIO integrates multiple facets and roles and synergizes these so that they have an impact greater than the sum of the parts (i.e. 1+1=3). 

I see the CIO Squared fulfilling its potential in a couple of major ways:

- Firstly, many organizations have both a Chief Information Officer and a Chief Technology Officer--they break the "Information Technology" concept and responsibility down into its components and make them the responsibility of two different people or different roles in the organization. One is responsible for the information needs of the business and the other brings the technology solutions to bear on this.  

However, I believe that fundamentally, a truly successful CIO needs to be able to bridge both of these functions and wear both hats and to wear them well. The CIO should be able to work with the business to define and moreover envision their future needs to remain competitive and differentiated (that's the innovation piece), but at the same time be able to work towards fulfilling those needs with technology and other solutions. 

Therefore, the role split between the CIO as the "business guy" and the CTO as the "technology whiz" has to merge at some point back into an executive that speaks both languages and can execute on these.  

That does not mean that the CIO is a one-man team--quite the contrary, the CIO has the support and team that can plan and manage to both, but the CIO should remain the leader--the point of the spear--for both.  

Another way to think of this is that CIO Squared is another name for Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO). 

- A second notion of CIO Squared that I had when putting that moniker out there for my column was that the CIO represents two other roles as well--on one hand, he/she is a consummate professional and business person dedicated to the mission and serving it's customer and stakeholders, and on the other hand, the CIO needs to be a "mensch"--a decent human being with integrity, empathy, and caring for others.  

This notion of a CIO or for that matter any CXO--Chief Executive Officer or the "X" representing any C-suite officer (CEO, COO, CFO, CHCO, etc.)--needs to be dual-hatted, where they perform highly for the organization delivering mission results, but simultaneously do so keeping in mind the impact on people and what is ultimately good and righteous.

Therefore, the CIO Squared is one who can encompass both business and technology roles and synthesize these for the strategic benefit of the organization, but also one who is mission-focused and maintains integrity and oneness with his people and G-d above who watches all. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

August 16, 2009

Vision is not a Business Only Matter

At an enterprise architecture conference a number of weeks ago, the audience was asked how many of you see yourself as technology people—about half raised their hands. And then the audience was asked how many see yourselves more as business people—and about half raised their hands. And of course, there were a handful of people that raised their hands as being “other.”

Then the dialogue with the audience of architects proceeded to regardless of whether you consider yourselves more business-oriented or more technology-oriented, either way, enterprise architects must get the vision from the business people in the organization, so the architects can then help the business people to develop the architecture. It was clear that many people felt that we had to wait for the business to know that their vision was and what they wanted, before we could help them fulfill their requirements. Well, this is not how I see it.

From my experience, many business (and technology) people do not have a “definitive vision” or know concretely what they want, especially when it comes to how technology can shape the business. Yes, of course, they do know they have certain gaps or that they want to improve things. But no, they don’t always know or can envision what the answer looks like. They just know that things either aren’t working “right” or competitor so and so is rolling out something new or upgrading system ABC or “there has just got to be a better way" to something.

If we plan to wait for the business to give us a definitive “this is what I want,” I think in many cases, we’ll be waiting a very long time.

The role of the CIO, CTO, as well as enterprise architects and other IT leaders is to work with the business people, to collaboratively figure out what’s wrong, what can be improved, and then provide solutions on how to get there.

Vision is not a business only matter—it is a broad leadership and planning function. IT leaders should not absolve themselves of visioning, strategy, and planning and rely only on the business for this. To the contrary, IT leaders must be an integral part of forging the business vision and must come up with an enabling “technology vision” for the organization. These days, business is more and more reliant on technology for its success, and a business vision without thought and input from the technology perspective would be superficial at best and dead of center at worst.

Moreover, visioning is not an art or a science, but it is both and not everyone is good at it. That is why open communication and collaboration is critical for developing and shaping the vision for where the organization must go.

Early on in my career, in working with my business counterparts, I asked “What are you looking to do and how can I help you?” And my business partner responded, opening my eyes, and said, “You tell me—what do you think we need to do. You lead us and we will follow.”

Wow! That was powerful.

“You tell me.”

“What do you think we need to do.”

“You lead us and we will follow.”

The lesson is simple. We should not and cannot wait for the business. We, together with our operational counterparts, are “the business”. Technology is not some utility anymore, but rather it is one of the major underpinnings of our information society; it is the driving force behind our innovation, the core of our competitive advantage, and our future.


Share/Save/Bookmark

June 16, 2009

Rocky and The Total CIO



The Total CIO:
  1. Multitasks
  2. Always is training (and learning)
  3. Leads by example
  4. Inspires others
  5. Is determined and persistent
  6. Has inner strength
  7. Everything is a potential technology/tool
  8. Means business
  9. Gets results
  10. Above all, has a heart

Share/Save/Bookmark

October 13, 2008

Brand and The Total CIO

David F. D’Allesandro, the CEO of John Hancock insurance group has a bunch of wonderful books on building brand and career, such as “Brand Warfare”, “Career Warfare” and “Executive Warfare”.

All the books have three things in common. One, they are about the importance of brand. Two, they are about moving ahead in the corporate world. And three, they all end in “warfare.”

Brand is critical for building value. Brand is our reputation. It’s how we are known to others. It’s what people think and say about us. It’s a representation of our values and integrity.

We all know corporate brands such as those from consumer product companies and fashion designers. Those that have a “good” brand, tend to convey a higher status and cost a premium. We trust those brands and many people wear the brand labels as a status symbol.

We all carry a brand. Like a mark of “Grade A” or “Prime Beef” seared on a side of a hide of cattle, a brand is mark of distinction for us.

At work, we are branded as honest or not, fair or not, hard working or not, team players or not and so on and so forth.

As the CIO, it is imperative to have a brand that synthesizes the best of business and technology for the organization.

On one hand, many view the CIO as the technical leader for the organization; the wang-bang guru that leads the enterprise through the often confusing and fast-changing technology landscape. In this role, the CIO can make or break the future of the organization with wise or poor technical decisions that can put the enterprise on the cutting-edge, build competitive advantage, and increase revenue/profits, market share, and customer satisfaction. Or the CIO can lead the organization down a technical sinkhole with failed IT projects that jeopardize mission, alienate customers, drive out good employees out, and waste millions of dollars.

On the other hand, many like to say that the CIO is not and should not be tech-focused, but should be about the business—understanding the business strategy, operations, and requirements and then driving an IT organization that is responsive to it. Taken to an extreme, the CIO may not be required to have a technology background, an IT degree or even a technical certificate. This person may be from the business side of the house and could almost alien to the CIO organization and therefore, may not easily garner the respect of his more technical people.

The true successful CIO melds business and technology together. Their brand is one where business drives technology and where strategy is paramount, but operations is a given! This CIO is someone who can be relied on to make wise technical decisions today that will enhance the strategic success of the organization tomorrow. The CIO is a leader who manages not only upward, but who reaches across the organization to build partnership and understanding; who inspires, motivates, trains, recognizes, and rewards his people; and who conducts outreach and brings in best practices from beyond the strict organizational boundaries. This CIO is loyal, dedicated, hard-working, smart, and has the trust and confidence to get the job done!

So what with the “warfare” part in the books?

Well, unfortunately not everyone wants us to succeed. So, we must work on our brand to build it and make it shine, but at the same time, there are others inside and outside the organization who for various reasons would like to tarnish our brand: perhaps, they are jealous, competitive, nay-sayers, change resistant, oppositional, confrontational, troubled, or just plain crooked.

What D’Allesandro says is that to be successful, what sets us apart, is our ability to build relationship with others, even when it is challenging.

To be a successful CIO, we need a terrific personal brand, but more than that we need to have courage and conviction to stand by our beliefs and the vision and the ability to articulate it to guide and influence others to advance the organization’s long-term business and technical success.
Share/Save/Bookmark